The construction of the BSCIC Industrial Park in Sirajganj began in 2010 with a four-year deadline, but it has not yet been completed even after several extensions in time and costs.
The Bangladesh Small and Cottage Industries Corporation (BSCIC) has again forwarded a revised proposal to the Planning Commission, seeking another year, until June 2024, to complete the project, which has so far seen 84% of progress in physical work.
Speaking to The Business Standard, a BSCIC office assistant, engaged in the project, said, "The work has now been delayed by some politically influential contractors."
According to the project officials, only due to the negligence of the contractor in the construction of the drain has the progress of the industrial park been hampered.
Project Director Zafar Bayezid said, "Altogether 13 contractors are engaged in this project. But many of them are not working properly. One of them was responsible for building lakes and drains. Mainly because of this contractor, the project got delayed a bit.
"The contractor who was given the drain work could not do the job. They have been told many times. Several letters have been given. This issue has also been discussed with the contractor. There is evidence of this. Due to negligence in the work, the contractor is also being fined a large amount."
The project director said the senior authorities concerned, including the BSCIC chairman and the minister and secretary of the related ministry, are also aware of the situation.
If the revised proposal is approved, the park is expected to become operational by mid-2024. Businessmen are optimistic that it will boost economic activities in the northern region of Bangladesh, including Sirajganj.
The BSCIC is constructing the industrial park three kilometres away from Sirajganj district town along the banks of the Jamuna River with the aim of providing employment to at least one lakh people.
Initially, the cost of the project, which will have 570 factories on 829 plots, was estimated at Tk378.92 crore.
According to BSCIC officials, the project hit a snag at the beginning, and construction could not begin by 2014, when the original deadline expired, due to various crises, including land acquisition complications. Then the deadline was extended till 2015, and the cost was increased to Tk489.96 crore.
Assistant Engineer Hiranmoy Bardhan stated that the project lost momentum once more due to objections from the Water Development Board during the land acquisition phase, ultimately resulting in its suspension.
The project proposal was then revised for a second time, extending the deadline to 2019 and increasing the cost to Tk628.10 crore, he added.
Again, new issues arose over the rising prices of construction materials, and the work could not be completed by the deadline, said the engineer who is overseeing the construction.
He said the project cost was once again increased to Tk719.21 crore. That is, in 13 years, the cost of the project increased by Tk340.29 crore. And the deadline has been extended to June 2023.
BSCIC has now postponed the work altogether.
The BSCIC authorities in Sirajganj wrote to their headquarters in March, requesting an extension of the project deadline until June 2024 without an associated cost increase.
Zafar Bayezid mentioned that the revised project proposal is currently awaiting approval from the Planning Commission.
According to the revised proposal, the financial progress of this project is 72.49% and the physical progress is 84%.
He expects to begin work on the drain in October if the revised proposal is approved and complete the work in four months.
"And it will take two months to work on the lake. Apart from drains and roads, there is not much work left on a large scale. If these two major works are done, then it will not take much time to finish the project," said Bayezid.
Sirajganj Chamber of Commerce and Industry Vice President Rashed Yusuf Jewel said the district is the gateway to North Bengal and connected to all the centres of the country.
"This region is mainly agricultural. The industrial park will enhance the opportunity to utilise the agricultural products. Among these, some domestic and foreign investors have expressed interest in investing. It will create employment for five lakh people, directly and indirectly," he added.